DNF around 100 pages. Such an interesting concept, but man, is the main character a whiner. I get it, he's supposed to have this crushing guilt and reDNF around 100 pages. Such an interesting concept, but man, is the main character a whiner. I get it, he's supposed to have this crushing guilt and regret (view spoiler)[after too-perfect-to-be-real Connor dies (hide spoiler)] and presumably he grows up at some point. But he reacts so negatively in rejecting so many things (trivial and major), and he makes so many assumptions (in what people are thinking about him, their motivations, their plans, etc), that he just wasn't a character I cared about or was interested in sticking around for. Do or think ONE thing that is surprising or fascinating or endearing or doesn't make me sigh with impatience, please.
I skimmed the last couple of chapters, and....meh.
I also didn't love the writing style. The way information was relayed was occasionally confusing, and I guess I can take glistening tears if I must, but I would never think to look at a Post-It note and call it "crisp." A couple of times I was also startled by exclamation points within the narration--it's sort of a jarring thing within a teenage boy's headspace, and the situations didn't really seem to merit them. It felt juvenile and excitable.
But if language doesn't bother you and if you read mostly for plot, maybe you'll like this better than I did. I'm just disappointed this wasn't the great YA science fiction book I was looking for. It's been awhile, so I hope we get one soon.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
P.S. The reference to IF I STAY in the blurb really pisses me off, though. Come on, now. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
2.5 stars If you look on this story as a romance with a disaster rather than a survival story with romance, you might enjoy this a little more than I2.5 stars If you look on this story as a romance with a disaster rather than a survival story with romance, you might enjoy this a little more than I did, since I didn't read the blurb too carefully and expected the latter. This is a New Adult novel that feels mostly YA except for the age and medical experience of its protagonist, as well as some later developments.
This was fine overall, but not altogether as stirring or frightening or memorable as I would have hoped. (And so much less survival stuff than I like!) I did enjoy the audiobook narrator, however--she manages to make the narrative engaging, even when what's happening is somewhat predictable, although all of her male characters (with Boston accents) sound the same, as do all the kids she voices.
There was also one line of characterization I really liked, in reference to (view spoiler)[missing insulin needles--of course! (hide spoiler)]; Tim's embarrassment at this small shame felt incredibly human and endearing. I would like to have seen more of that kind of quiet observation and feeling, as well as more character development overall. Still, I rather liked the ending--it ends just as you'd expect, but in a satisfactory way.
This probably would have been a decent three stars overall, had it not been for the fact that a pretty major thing that Avery is hiding for a long time finally comes out, and there doesn't seem to be that much impact after it's finally revealed. I'm fine with what happened, mind, just wished for more meat and discussion of consequences and emotion to come out of it. Everyone just kind of accepts this big secret, and the graveness of what happened is not adequately balanced by the amount of serious soul-searching, remorse, and forgiveness that it merited.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.
4.5 stars Everyone in this book is absolutely terrible, and as a result, this book is a masterpiece in character study and development. It's also a we4.5 stars Everyone in this book is absolutely terrible, and as a result, this book is a masterpiece in character study and development. It's also a well-written, precisely plotted psychological thriller, and deftly sketches one unreliable narrator after another. I guessed the culprit not too far into the book, but that didn't spoil my reading experience at all, particularly because the author drops so many diverting and convincing red herrings into the story.
I think it's also interesting that the central character, Rachel, challenges readers to think about how much we assume about--and pre-judge--other people based on our limited knowledge of them. To feel pity, disgust, frustration, compassion, and so much more for one character is a rare thing.
Hmm. I am very suspicious, being that I LOVE Anne, but this talk of tomato plants and blackberry bushes makes me a teeny bit hopeful. Teeny tiny. We'lHmm. I am very suspicious, being that I LOVE Anne, but this talk of tomato plants and blackberry bushes makes me a teeny bit hopeful. Teeny tiny. We'll see!...more
This story makes a mockery of love, emotional integrity, and mental illness, and it's glamoured by unmagical magical realism, a "sophisticate<.<
This story makes a mockery of love, emotional integrity, and mental illness, and it's glamoured by unmagical magical realism, a "sophisticated" literary style, and a twist upon which everything else hinges. I despise feeling manipulated (much as many of the characters in this book would if they had any sense), especially when the plot and writing are not particularly remarkable, and when the characters and relationships are so incredibly shallow and meaningless.
There's an attempt to interject a point to the story in the end, I suppose, but it's only a footnote to this elaborate, heartless exercise in writing technique.
3.5 stars Because it's Sarah Dessen, this is a very pleasant read. But it's not what I'd consider one of her standouts, since it doesn't have moments3.5 stars Because it's Sarah Dessen, this is a very pleasant read. But it's not what I'd consider one of her standouts, since it doesn't have moments that quietly hit you the way her best books do. Still, Mac and Sydney are cute together--Sarah writes the most wonderful everyday conversations about nothing and boys who manage to be appealing despite not doing anything particularly dramatic--and the brother-sister storyline ended well, even if it didn't quite have the tension or emotional impact that I think was intended.
Additionally, I don't have beef with fictional parents too often, but the hyper-controlling mom storyline here dragged out way too long.
So if you're a die-hard Dessen fan, just know this one's fine to pass the time, but it might not be one of your favorites. And if you're new to Dessen and like quieter contemporary YA that are about friendships and family and ordinary girls growing up (with a nice, healthy bit of swoon thrown in), you might want to start with The Truth About Forever or Just Listen. I fell in love with her after those (and after reading everything she's published except for one book that I'm hoarding for a rainy day), and despite my middling feelings on this one, I'll still happily read anything she writes.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
P.S. Food craving warning! This book is gonna make you want to eat piles and piles of pizza and French fries. So be prepared....more
2.5 stars I think fans of WHITE LINES or BROOKLYN, BURNING will appreciate the style. I liked the first half better than the second, though I liked th2.5 stars I think fans of WHITE LINES or BROOKLYN, BURNING will appreciate the style. I liked the first half better than the second, though I liked the atypical ending. But yeah, (view spoiler)[rape is rape (hide spoiler)] regardless of context. ...more
Hmm. I've listened to 12 chapters of this, and I think I need to set it aside for awhile because it's just not grabbing me at the moment. It has the mHmm. I've listened to 12 chapters of this, and I think I need to set it aside for awhile because it's just not grabbing me at the moment. It has the misfortune of immediately following another book Nest which has a number of the same plot elements, and even those similarities aside, I feel like I've read this story before in various other iterations. Sarcastic, offbeat teenage girl, cheating dad, stepmother she hates, etc.
Right now I'm not stirred by the writing or moved by the characters or relationships. But this one certainly has a huge number of fans, so I may come back to this at some point. Maybe it gets better after she reaches her destination/mom? I don't know.
Audiobook note: I also prefer that sarcastic POVs be narrated in a more understated way, and this audiobook performer is a tiny bit too strident/forceful for my personal taste.
An audiobook review copy was provided by the publisher. ...more
2.5 stars Is this a romance or a coming of age/coming into belief story? Sure, it can be both, but I'm afraid this book ultimately did not convince me2.5 stars Is this a romance or a coming of age/coming into belief story? Sure, it can be both, but I'm afraid this book ultimately did not convince me of either. Like No Other started out so strong, and I loved the Rainbow Rowell-like narrative voice, as well as the "meet cute" thing and awkward flirting.
Romantically, things move way, way too fast after that for my taste, however. First date, first kiss, first grope...past the first few initial conversations, those didn't feel earned, either through what we saw our what the characters told/showed us. While I totally subscribe to the belief that we can suddenly be inspired to behave in ways we never have before because our eyes have been opened or inspired by another person, it's still hard to believe that a girl this innocent and literally untouched would progress that far that fast. It's hard not to be a tiny bit skeeved by some of Jaxon's behavior as well (view spoiler)[such as buying her a cell phone, showing up at her house unannounced AFTER TRACING HER IP ADDRESS, etc. etc...okay, so his friend traced it, but he still used the info (hide spoiler)]; though it's all well-meaning, he's such a self-professed odd duck and there are so many obstacles to their relationship and he knows her so little that it's hard not to think that it's a case of "this is the first girl that's interested in me" fixation.
I also wish this story of a Hasidic girl and West Indian boy had talked more seriously about what the coming together of these two faiths meant, though. While we get some really nice scenes in the beginning with Devorah's family, once the sneaking around begins, it becomes a pretty stereotypical romance until it then suddenly becomes something different towards the end--more of what I would've wanted, for sure, except there wasn't nearly enough thought or emotion or even action shown to us. Portraying this branch of Orthodox Judaism is also a very tricky thing, particularly in showing the the more polarizing aspects of these beliefs. I knew about most of the practices going into this book and yet I still had pretty strong reactions to some of them--and I really wish this story had taken the opportunity to show us why these beliefs came to be and why these practices are still observed, both historically and emotionally.
I want nothing more when I read a book like this than to have my heart and mind opened up to ideas and feelings I had never before considered...and unfortunately, despite a few great opening chapters, this one didn't do either. Would definitely try another book by this author, though.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more